Let me begin by extending my sincerest congratulations.
If you are reading this you have successfully survived 2016 (that is award worthy by itself) and you have also survived the New Year’s zombie hoard at the gym.
The swarm of people wandering around looking at equipment they’ve never used.
Wearing the strangest new fitness fashion trend (Please understand that I have the world’s worst fitness fashion sense. I lift in ratty sweats and shirts full of holes).
Discussing their 30-day challenge or whatever cockamamie diet plan they are following to lose 30 pounds in 30 days.
Now you my friend are much more savvy than this horde and probably have your New Year’s diet dialed in so perfectly that by the end of 2017, you are going to look like Jake Gyllenhaal from Southpaw or Tom Hardy in Fighter (Traps for days).
So, I offer you these tips and tricks to pass off to your friends or the zombie hoard you will have to continue to fend off.
1. Look past January
There are a lot of people who make the absurd statement that, “New Year’s resolutions are stupid, if it was important you would have already done it”. That is just silly, everyone starts somewhere. There is nothing wrong with deciding January 1st is that date. Just start.
Now that being said, New Year’s resolution diets are often times horribly executed. If there is one fatal flaw of most New Year’s resolution diets it’s that they focus on the month of January and usually forget the next 11 months . . . or 11 years.
Use the new year as a starting place and think about your long term goals and construct a diet plan that is based on long-term results. Think December of the next year, not January 31.
Focusing on the month of January isn’t inherently bad, Lao Tzu even stated, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. What is bad is not acknowledging that you have a full thousand miles to go.
If you take that first step on the wrong path or without knowing where the end of the journey is, that first step might be in the wrong direction. Let January be a spring board, but don’t let it be the final destination of your journey.
2. Extremes usually aren’t the best solution
I admit, that last one was very vague, but it is true. It was also necessary to set up this idea. Extreme approaches to dieting are less sustainable than moderate approaches.
For example, if you are looking at obtaining a lean physique in 60 days you can opt for any variation of a protein sparing very low calorie diet (ketogenic, fasting, super low-fat, etc.) and lose a substantial amount of weight. It is not unheard of for people to lose 30 pounds in 60 days adopting a very low-calorie diet and exercising their faces off.
Unfortunately, the long-term success of that approach is abysmal at best. The rebound, and often times the “rebound plus interest”, occurs quite frequently. Now this isn’t specific to any diet in particular. This holds true for really any diet, including ketogenic diets or even high carbohydrate, super low fat diets.
Alternatively, if you are looking to achieve a lean physique and are interested in maintaining it for any meaningful amount of time, you need to set up something sustainable.
Go back to point one and think about where you want to be 24 months from now. Now set a plan that gets you there and keeps you there. Is it something that is moderate or slow progressing until then? Or is it something that occurs in phases?
Maybe you plan to lose 10 pounds in January then focus on some performance goals for a few months, then come back to lose more weight in a following month.
3. Ask for help
This is probably the single most important piece of advice I can give: Ask for help.
Below are several reasons why asking for help is critical as you set up your long-term non-extreme diet.
1. Having accountability will keep you on target when you don’t always want to be.
That pan of brownies looks pretty darn good after two weeks of crushing your diet plan.
But, you need someone else to help you decide whether that is in the plan or not.
2. Having an objective eye evaluate and set your plan can help you see things about your diet and your training plan that you might not see.
For example, you might think that your training volume warrants 600 grams of carbs a day. A coach who has 10 years of experience might tell you it is more along the lines of 300.
The objectivity and second set of eyes is critical. Even in my own work coaching clients I often ask for a second opinion. Getting results is more important than being right.
3. The juice is worth the squeeze.
Let me pose a quick thought experiment. Imagine you are interviewing for your dream job and the interviewer blind folds you and walks you into a giant room and then removes the blindfold.
Now in front of you are two mazes. The instructor tells you each maze is identical, and that if you can finish either maze in under an hour you will get the job. However, if you fail you do not get the job.
You can choose to go through the first maze and you have about a 5% chance of reaching the end by of the time allotted. This choice is free, it costs you nothing.
Related: How to Make Meal Prep Work For You
Alternatively, you can choose to go through the second maze which comes with a map of the maze and barring any unforeseen circumstance (you have a heart attack or the sun explodes), you have a 99.99% chance of reaching the end by the time allotted. The caveat? Choosing the second maze costs you your first 2 paychecks.
This decision is essentially a no-brainer. You should choose the second one.
You probably guess it by now, the second choice is finding a coach or someone to help you follow the path to success this year. I can guarantee you that the investment in knowledge of how best to achieve your goal is worth every penny. Any opportunity to increase your chances of success is worth it.
Despite what some people will tell you, or what some motivational quote tells you, January 1st is a perfectly acceptable place to start working on being who you want to be.
Every journey starts somewhere. The important part is to put the right pieces in place to make sure that next January you aren’t right back where you started.
To do that you need to look past January and figure out your long term goals, develop a sustainable dietary approach to get there, ask for help from an expert with the right credentials and an approach that matches your goals and personality.
Lastly, don’t make the journey too serious, it should be a fun process exploring who you are and making yourself better.